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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Beta-amyrin synthase--cloning of oxidosqualene cyclase that catalyzes the formation of the most popular triterpene among higher plants.

Beta-amyrin, a typical pentacyclic triterpene having an oleanane skeleton, is one of the most commonly occuring triterpenes in nature and is biosynthesized from (3S)-2,3-oxidosqualene. The enzyme, beta-amyrin synthase, catalyzing the cyclization of oxidosqualene into beta-amyrin, generates five rings and eight asymmetric centers in a single transformation. A homology-based PCR method was attempted to obtain the cDNA of this enzyme from the hairy root of Panax ginseng which produces oleanane saponins together with dammarane-type saponins. Two sets of degenerate oligonucleotide primers were designed at the regions which are highly conserved among known oxidosqualene cyclases (OSCs). Nested PCRs using these primers successfully amplified the core fragment which revealed the presence of two OSC clones PNX and PNY. Specific amplification of each clone by 3'-RACE and 5'-RACE was carried out to obtain the whole sequences. The two clones exhibited 60% amino acid identity to each other. A full-length clone of PNY was ligated into the yeast expression vector pYES2 under the GAL1 promoter to give pOSC(PNY). Beta-amyrin production was observed with the mutant yeast lacking lanosterol synthase, transformed by this plasmid. The sequence of pOSC(PNY) contains an open reading frame of 2289 nucleotides which codes for 763 amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of 88 kDa. Sequence comparison with other OSCs showed a high level of similarity with lanosterol, cycloartenol and lupeol synthases. The other clone, pOSC(PNX), was shown to be cycloartenol synthase by similar expression in yeast. The present studies have revealed that distinct OSC exists for triterpene formation in higher plants, and the high level of similarity with cycloartenol synthase indicates close evolutional relationship between sterol and triterpene biosynthesis.[1]


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